This is about game (animal) mother and our people’s story of how animals came to be. Game mother was a woman who lived in this place that we now call the Yukon, near Lake Bennett amongst the mountains. She lived here with her husband and brothers. One spring, game mother was about to give birth to all of the animals. Her husband and brothers were to go to the coast, but she didn’t want to go. She was getting big and tired and stayed in a camp they made for her.
First thing you know moose was born, but it had grizzly bear teeth. So she called it back and took the teeth out and showed him how to eat willow. Caribou came next and she told him to loose his horns once in a while and showed him how to eat moss.
Then came grizzly bear with his great strength and need for sleep, then wolf who travels alone and is a great hunter. Beaver with his beautiful coat and teeth that never stop growing. And so came all the animals, which live in this place, they all came from game mother.
With each one she teach them what to eat, how to live and how to behave. And the animals all stayed around this place with game mother.
Game mother, she wanted the animals to live across the land so she told them she was going. She made a giant hammock and hung it from the four mountains tops here in this special place where all animals came to be. The hammock had four strings – one tied to each mountain - Tekade’uch, Weji’tsay, Cheli’chele and Tatlachechi (Montana, Grey, Caribou and Nares Mountains).
She invited all the animals on the hammock and they danced and sang to each other and had a great celebration. Game mother had taught them all they need to know to live. She told them it was time for them to move across the land and to look after themselves. And so all the animals moved across this land and live amongst us now.
As told to Janet Lee by Elder Clara Schinkel
Our thanks to the "Caribou Crossing Adventure Company" for this written account of the Game Mother Legend.